My heart goes out to the wonderful people of Christchurch, New Zealand. The death and destruction is terrible. I’m sharing in this post some of my photographs of this beautiful city and its residents from a visit there in early February 2009. At the bottom is a link to the Red Cross in New Zealand, originally posted by Greg Royal, known online as Kiwi Bloke.
I’ve posted a link below to another traveller’s blog post showing the beautiful ChristChurch Cathedral interior.
A 6.3 magnitude quake struck Christchurch, New Zealand, just before 1 p.m. local time on February 22, 2011. Earthquakes often rattle New Zealand, but this earthquake was shallow and close to the city, which is New Zealand’s second largest city and the largest on the south island. The February 22nd earthquake was less powerful than a 7.1 quake that struck before dawn on September 4, 2010, that damaged buildings but killed no one. Experts said Tuesday’s quake was deadlier because it was closer to the city and because more people were in the high-rise buildings.
According to the New York Times of February 24, 2011: ”The bodies of at least 113 people, including two infants, have been recovered from a number of heavily damaged buildings since the 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck central Christchurch in the early afternoon on Tuesday. Most of the victims have not yet been formally identified, but they were thought to include many of the 228 people still listed as missing, but feared dead.”
New Zealand is at the southwestern tip of the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area where large numbers of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean. The eastern part of the ring runs along the west coast of North America, Central America and South America. A friend was in Lima, Peru, during a devastating earthquake in that country in August 2007 that killed hundreds of people. His home in Peru at the time was in Ica, which took the brunt of the earthquake. When he was finally able to return to his home in Ica, he learned that a huge chunk of concrete had fallen on the pillow on his bed.
New Zealand is a beautiful country with magnificent scenery, including alpine-like mountain peaks that were created from the earthquakes and volcanic activity resulting when the Pacific and Indo-Australian Plates clash. This process continues, which leads to the earthquakes that seem to shake off humans like ants from a giant’s shoulders. New Zealand’s Alps and other scenery can be seen in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.
It’s hard to find a place on earth that isn’t vulnerable to some kind of impending doom, but some human settlements seem especially vulnerable. When we traveled the South Island of New Zealand in February 2009, guides always mentioned past and possible future earthquake activity. One guide said the country was overdue for a big earthquake, yet no one there seemed to be ready to flee the country to avoid the inevitable. As humans, we all have our fingers crossed and usually live in a state of denial.
My husband I recently visited another very seismically active area — the Big Island of Hawaii, which is still being created as lava slowly flows from Kīlauea. Since 1952, Kīlauea has erupted 34 times, and since January 1983 eruptive activity has been continuous along the east rift zone. According to the United States Geological Survey, Kīlauea is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and may even top the list. Within the last month, lava flows reached a house and barn, destroying them. The island is also vulnerable to tsunamis from earthquakes elsewhere and has been hit hard a few times in the past hundred years. I’ll post my volcano and lava photographs in another post. We in the U.S. Midwest aren’t immune. One of the biggest recorded earthquakes in our country was in the St. Louis area. A link to my post about that is below, called “What a Relief!”
Below, in February 2009, a bridal couple rested along the Avon River in Christchurch after a photography session.